Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

Marketplace Ministry

June 13, 2016

The church exists to equip Jesus-followers for ministry; it does not exist primarily to do ministry.

My friend Chuck called the other day from a conference where he heard a speaker discuss this idea. The speaker is now successful in the marketplace. He formerly worked on the staff of a megachurch.

Chuck said, “I was thinking of you and your status right now.”

A couple of years ago I felt I was open for a new ministry. A door opened and I took a position with my church. If you’ve read this blog for long you know that I am an analyst by nature (TP in Myers-Briggs speak) and also a management coach. I could dive into a deep analysis, but I’ll spare you…and me. It just didn’t work out.

He was telling me that I should use my teaching and writing skills out here in the real world. Not to worry about inside the four walls of an organization.

I’ve recently been turned on to John Fischer’s The Catch (fisher, catch, get it??). The link goes to the blog page Definitions of a Marketplace Christian.

John is a worship leader/song writer. Part of the “original” Jesus movement of the late 60s/early 70s. He talks of “grace turned outward” and “marketplace Christian”two phrases that resonate.

Churches as organizations can be frustrating. There’s local politics, denominational politics (and remember, my masters work was in political science and philosophy), and I like neither. As Dallas Willard has said, churches are the one place where hurting people should be able to come and find healing, yet they usually find judgement and ostracism.

Yet, I kept trying. I’ve been Baptist Chair of the Board of Deacons, chair of Trustees, leadership committee, missions head, probably other stuff. I’m neither bragging nor asking for solace.

Chuck says, just keep writing. Maybe someday I’ll get good at it.

But I don’t write this for my therapy. What is it that you can do outside the church to bring Jesus’ message and love to hurting people? That’s all he asked us to do, right?

Dangling Conversations

February 2, 2016

My friend Jim Pinto is an engineer, so he always researches and sometimes overthinks things (as a reader of this blog, does that sound familiar?). He was raised as a Catholic in India. Gives him a perspective on life that I find valuable.

He recently became bored with adult conversations at a gathering. Ever happen to you? Adults usually talk about other people. Or, as they get older, they talk about themselves–their medications, ailments, aches, doctors.

I know that conversations are not listed on Richard J. Foster’s exhaustive list of spiritual disciplines. Think about it for a minute. Are there not times when you could steer conversation intentionally toward new ideas? Toward growth moments? Or even toward spiritual life?

Another friend recently received a cross about two feet high to place in his yard from his church. The idea was that it could be a conversation starter. Someone walks by, sees the cross, asks about it, and you have an opening to talk about church and life with God.

I should mention that he lives in a retirement community in Florida. The first person who walked by asked, “Aww, did your dog die?” The second person asked if someone was killed on the road in an accident. Oh, well. Nice try.

Anyway, back to Jim. Remember him? He was bored with adult conversation and did what I like to do–go talk with the kids. They are enthusiastically learning new things and sharing them. Life is an adventure to them. They get new ideas, try them out, explore them.

Jim things that the generation of teens today (whatever label marketing people are giving them) will change the world for the better. I told him that that’s just what people said about us–the Boomers. We only sort of did that. But the majority also were the “Me Generation” and we can see that in everything from politics to fashion.

I hope he’s right.

But I began to wonder–how many Millennials (say 20 to 35 years old today in my terms) are there in your church? How many are you nurturing? In my case, none. That’s not good.

Then, how are you relating to today’s teens? Are you nurturing and mentoring anyone that age?

I sense that is the task of older people. A generation of church leaders sprang up against much opposition to reach a younger population (think Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley). Are those churches still relevant to the next younger population? Is yours?

Bet we have work to do.

Tell The Story Of Christmas

December 22, 2015

Can there be anyone in the world who does not know that Friday is Christmas?

It is impossible to live in the US and not know about Christmas–at least as a holiday. The name is everywhere.

Many people will have the day off work.  Many have been buying presents. Even people who do not celebrate Christmas or know about the reason for the celebration buy presents for celebrations.

Unlike Easter which always occurs on a Sunday, Christmas can be any day of the week. But still churches are filled during December. Maybe not so much in January, but the last Sunday before Christmas and Christmas Eve services will draw more people than any other time excepting Easter.

Even more than presents and church attendance, the holiday means family gatherings. These dinners are as often fraught with tension and disappointment as they are joyous. Often the tension between hype and reality takes the luster off the day.

Let’s look at just the “Christian” perspective.

Is this just a celebration for the “in” people? We gather the members, sing songs, pat each other on the back, congratulate the pastor on drawing a big attendance.

What if…what if the followers of Jesus took advantage of all this marvelous (and free) advertising. We don’t have to be apologetic. Or in your face. We don’t have to say “merry Christmas” as if it were a challenge.

But so many people are hearing about Christmas who have no idea what the meaning is. They only know rumors and bad information about who that man Jesus was. Some may only have a vague idea that this is a birthday party for a man who changed the world and billions of individual people.

What if we saw this season as a great opportunity to start conversations with people outside the church. Let’s turn it all inside out. Instead of inbred celebration, let’s reach out to others.

Marketers spend tons of money and lots of energy to create this sort of messaging. I consult with companies to help them achieve just a part of this sort of marketing. Companies use this marketing to start conversations with prospects.

What if we used all this awareness throughout the culture to introduce people to a man who was God who can help them through so many life challenges? Not by shouting at people but by conversing with them.

Let Your Light Shine-Why?

May 7, 2015

I’m up early and in the breakfast area of my hotel in Seattle. They have not one but three TVs all turned to one of those TV talk shows that are designed to heighten fear and anger in the hearts of the sympathizers. It’s hard to concentrate and meditate in such an environment.

I wondered, is that how I would like my light to shine? That I spend so much time being cynical and negative that my face sets permanently in that attitude?

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Then he went on to state why, “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give praise to your Father in heaven.”

These talk show people–they make a large income. They have influence over millions of souls. Their legacy, raise fear and anger in people so that they will continue to watch so that advertisers will pay high rates to present their products to the many.

How does this relate to church, you may wonder? Rightly so.

We have churches that operate the same way. They emphasize fear and anger so that people will come and obey.

Jon Swason started me thinking with his article comparing and contrasting evangelism and customer service in business and in church. Many (probably not enough) can do evangelism. But how do we rate in customer service? Do we just give them some words to memorize and tell them to go on their way?

Dallas Willard once said that church was the worst place to come to share your hurts and failures in order to find comfort and healing.

Jesus said let your light shine so that our Father is glorified. Part of that light is to fellow travellers on the way who need help. By so doing, you show people outside the fellowship the joy of becoming a Jesus-follower and joining the fellowship.

Good works, not sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt. What a thought!